All about "I do"

All about "I do"

May 9th, 2010 by Tamara Best in Businesstopstory

Saying "I do" is not only a celebration of love but also has become a more than $80 billion business across the country, according to the Association for Wedding Professionals International.

It's an industry that blossoms mainly from May through October of each year with local wedding businesses reporting that they, too, see their own activities ramp up.

"From the looks of May and early June we're going to have a big season," said Ricky Croon of The Meeting Co., which specializes in event planning.

Anna Crawford, who is tying the knot in June, said she chose her date in part because of the warm weather.

"I'm super excited, I'm not nervous at all. I'm just ready for it to be here," she said.

Christy Lewis, who has been engaged for two months and getting married in September, said she is gearing up for all the planning ahead.

Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press Christy Lewis tries on dresses as bridal consultant Elizabeth Jackson fixes her vail at Monica's bridal shop in North Chattanooga. Miss Lewis is getting married on Sept. 25 of this year.

Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press Christy...

"We really wanted to get married this year and I have always loved September. It's stressful and I'm nervous, but mostly excited."

Brides like Ms. Crawford and Ms. Lewis who are opting to marry during peak times are keeping local companies busy.

Jeremy Rardin, director of operations for special events for The Rental Store, which carries rental equipment, said they are "slammed" with 40 to 50 weddings booked from now through June.

"We definitely have some weddings for the upcoming season and we are excited about them," said Lisa Peponis, floral designer at Joy's Flowers on McCallie Avenue, noting that roses, calla lilies and Gerber daisy flowers are popular this season. Mrs. Peponis said business is holding steady with the company expecting to have more than 30 wedding orders, roughly the same amount of orders this year as last.

On average, couples getting married in Chattanooga spend between $12,863 and $21,439, according to

Morty C. Lloyd, president of The Wedding Chapel of Chattanooga, said more couples are turning to packages as a way to significantly cut costs and alleviate stress.

"All the couples have to do is make one phone call, show up and enjoy the day. It's one-stop shopping," he said.

The chapel offers ceremony packages ranging from $200 to $1,895 based on the number of guests and services desired, including wedding coordinators and photographers.

And though the wedding season is bringing an increase in business, area companies said that couples are changing the way they spend their money.

According to a survey by The Wedding Report, couples spent 10 percent less on their weddings in 2009 than 2008.

Couples are spending slightly less than before and waiting longer to place orders, area businesses said. Though there is no one reason for the shorter time, businesses suggests that it may be as a result of shorter engagements or couples ordering items later as a result of looking for the best deals.

"People are waiting a little longer and budgeting their money better due to the economy," Mrs. Peponis said.

Stacy Hiera with Memorable Events, which specializes in rentals, said she has also noticed a change.

"The time span of when people want something done and when they walk in is getting shorter and shorter," she said adding that the short notice sometimes adds stress when trying to schedule labor for events.

Dolores Murphy, owner of Monica's bridal shop on North Market Street, said brides are also coming in later to find dresses for their big day, with silk organza and lace among popular options.

"Where a girl used to come in a year ahead, now it's eight months," she said.

Yet, even with the stress of shorter time frames, area businesses report that wedding season remains a joyful time.

"It's a fun time, it's always hopping, there is always someone here," Mrs. Murphy said. "There's always laughing, pictures and crying. It's probably the best time of the year."

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